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CIA May Have Bought Faulty Drone Software

"Someone should have told me this product was not ready," Netezza Federal Account Manager Joe Wiltshire wrote in an email to Shepherd, which is included among the court documents. "We are negatively exposed to one of our most important customers now. In his eyes, we concealed info to close the deal, or we are not 'in the know.' Either one is not good. Please get this product ready immediately so we can get out of this predicament."

An email from Netezza project manager Razi Raziuddin on Oct. 10, a Saturday, implies the CIA's acceptance of a rush job.

"We have a critical need to get the Netezza Spatial package ported over to TwinFin as soon as possible," he wrote. "A U.S. Gov customer is expecting the toolkit to be available as soon as Monday for use in a mission-critical project. They do understand that we won't have a fully qualified, production-ready release and are OK with it."

Subsequent emails in the case file indicate concern over the floating-point problem. A message from a Netezza product manager on Oct. 16, the following Friday: "The results on the customer's TwinFin 12 return much faster than the 10100 but for some strange reason, many of the calculations are a little off, from 1 to 13 meters." (The 10100 was the model number of the Netezza Performance Server, the appliance that preceded TwinFin.)

There's initial frustration at the lack of access to the Intelligent Integration Systems software. "No matter how you slice this, however, we are likely screwed," Netezza CEO Baum wrote in an email Oct. 17, a day later.

An email exchange from Oct. 23, also in the court record, indicates that the customer signed off on the deal, after all. "They are satisfied," Wiltshire wrote in an email to Netezza executives, adding that the customer "believes that the minor discrepancy in metrics between the 10100 and the TwinFin 12 is due to the TF doing a better job."

"Thank god for optimists," Shepherd replied.

An Oct. 29 document says David Flaxman, Netezza senior vice president of products and technology, ordered the team to proceed with "the Project".

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